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Children life Pregnancy Self Love and Personal Growth

3 Months Post-Partum

It’s been three months, actually closer to four months by the time this is posted, since I gave birth. Giving birth via c-section was an experience to say the least. It was my third turning point on the ride that is the idea and reality of having children. (My first turning point was knowing I want children one day. The second was finding out I was pregnant). What came after were the first days of the rest of my life raising another human being.

My baby didn’t open her eyes for the first couple of weeks because the light was too bright. She was used to the darkness of the womb. For I don’t know how long, she’d eat and poop and pee and sleep. Then she’d wake up and cry because she’s hungry and drift off back to sleep, only to wake up and cry because she fell asleep too soon and was still hungry. Then, one day, she opened her eyes and it’s become a daily thing every time she is awake.

The thing I didn’t know until this experience is that parents lack sleep because babies need to eat every 2-4 hours, including during the middle of the night and early in the morning. If the baby doesn’t wake up by the 3-4 hour mark, you’re supposed to wake them up, and try to get them to eat. Call it efficient, or anxiety-fueled, or the steps a new mom would take, but for the first couple of weeks I set timers to ensure she was eating as often as recommended, especially at night, to make sure she was gaining weight. I don’t set timers anymore, mainly because she’s good at waking herself up when she’s hungry.

In the beginning, she would wake up anytime she was put down. She constantly wanted to be in someone’s arm and could tell when she wasn’t. As time goes on she gets more comfortable not being held all the time, though she prefers it. She still sleeps longer when she’s close to someone. You can tell when she’s knocked out cause her mouth will be open as she sleeps.

Week by week she stays awake a little longer and sleeps a little less. One day she smiled at me for the first time for no particular reason. Another day she laughed while she was awake, versus in her sleep, which was the only time I’d heard her laugh before. She tries to climb up me when we’re sitting down and bawls her eyes out when I clear out the mucus and boogers from her nose.

She’s developed different cries when she needs different things. She whines when she’s tired and is fighting sleep. She smiles when she sees a ceiling fan and the artwork on the walls. She’s curious when she’s in a new environment. She gets excited when she sees me or the friendly and familiar faces of our immediate family. She’s starting to babble more often and in response to us talking to her. She laughs when she’s amused and likes to stick her tongue out at us when she’s feeling playful. She chews on everything, especially her hands. She’s even trying to hold her own bottle.

In three months my baby has grown so much. She’s gained weight and gotten longer. Her eyebrows and eyelashes have grown in. Her umbilical cord fell off and her belly button, which was protruding, is slowly getting smaller and going in. She’s getting more hair on top of her head, which changes texture week by week. She’s gone up in diaper sizes. It’s surreal seeing her grow and noticing the changes in her physicality, personality, and development. She’s growing so fast it’s unreal. It makes my heart melt and ache.

I can talk about her all day. She’s allowed me to experience a different type of love. She’s allowed me to look at other children and other parents with more awe, respect, and understanding than I have in the past. Knowing she came from me is still surreal. She means more to me than I can put into words.

The c-section recovery was hard for me. My incision didn’t fully heal until 10 weeks, 2 1/2 months, after my delivery. It took 10 weeks, 2 1/2 months, for me to be cleared to exercise and go back to work.

Those were hard weeks because I couldn’t be self-sufficient. In the first couple of weeks it hurt to move, sleep, and laugh. It felt impossible to get comfortable. My autoimmune disease was also being a nuisance and I wasn’t cleared to breastfeed with the medication I needed to be on. That being said, I had to make the transition from breastfeeding to formula, which was something I wasn’t originally planning to do so soon.

Breastfeeding in itself is hard work. Breasts get engorged with milk which hurts, so you pump to store, which only stimulates more milk production. I had to ride out the engorging when I made the decision to stop breastfeeding because I was trying to lessen my supply. With breastfeeding it can be hard to get the baby to latch. Though my daughter didn’t have too much trouble with that, with the pain I was in, finding a comfortable position for the both of us was challenging. Also, being woken up every 2 hours, which was how often my daughter woke up to eat at first, was exhausting. It also hurt my nipples when she latched; nipple cream comes in handy with chafing.

I was sad about not being able to breastfeed for as long as I wanted, and held it off for as long as I could. On the upside, once I switched I didn’t have to deal with those challenges of breastfeeding anymore. Also, I have full autonomy of my body back. I can eat and drink anything without worrying if it is safe for the baby. I feel mobile again. I said bye bye to the nausea and the vomiting almost immediately after giving birth.

2 1/2 months later, about a month ago, I started working again. It was the first time I was away from my baby since giving birth. (And I started working sooner than I could have. I could have gone back in May). I mistakenly came back earlier than I was ready for and felt lost. Covid plays a role in all this too. I was on leave and social distancing for so long, it was hard to get into the rhythm of being around strangers and acquaintances. I got annoyed easier, especially when dealing with rude people. I would see children and think of my own baby. My hormones felt all over the place. I mean, I was still and still am producing milk. My breasts leak a little every once and a while and my period has yet to make an appearance. Needless to say, going back to work was a lot.

I rode it out though and am getting used to spending time away from my baby. Still, being a new mom and having a kid who is only a couple months old came with some baggage. I had some guilt about leaving her for work and not being home when she wakes up in the morning. I have trips planned without her to support my individuality but am worried about leaving and missing her. I constantly want to be around her. Sometimes, I need a break and am given one, only to miss her and want her back.

I also experienced anxiety specific to being a new mom. It gets better as time goes on. In the beginning I had a lot of anxiety throughout the day when I wasn’t with her, even if she was just a room away. I had/have anxiety about dropping her. Sometimes, the anxiety has affected my sleep; I wake up instantly thinking about her and go to check on her.

When people say it takes a village, they really aren’t lying. Raising another human being is a 24 hour gig. There’s no days or time off. And even though I go to work and have vacations planned without her, she was, is, and will always be there in the back of my mind. I’m so grateful for my parents and my brother who are always down to babysit when I’m working and watch her when I’m running an errand or sleeping. I can tell they love her as much as I do and that she feels the same about them. I know this experience would be ten times harder and more draining if I didn’t have their help and support.

I will say it is a little weird to call her my daughter still, mainly because of social distancing and the fact that I moved back to my hometown. And although I love speaking about her and my experience and sharing pictures, I don’t talk about her much to others daily, besides mentioning her existence, unless they bring her up first and ask questions. Most people I know don’t have kids and are in the “fuck them kids” stage of their life. Plus, I know it could get a little annoying. It’s also wild that I’m meeting people who will never know me when I wasn’t a mom. Like, every person I meet from now on will always know and see me as a mom among my other identities and qualities versus the person I was before I was pregnant. It’s wild and it just reaffirms that I’m in a new stage of my life. Because, let’s be real; having kids changes you. It’s changed me and given me a new outlook on life.

Society also has a weird thing against moms, especially single moms, especially black single moms. I don’t know exactly how to describe this disdain. I’m sure it’s rooted in misogyny and misogynoir. But there’s this pressure to be a “good” mom whatever that means. There’s pressure to give birth a certain way and to breastfeed. There’s pressure to go back to work quickly. There’s pressure to spend all of your time with your baby without any breaks or time without them. There’s pressure to endure a nine month pregnancy, birth a child, and raise a kid for the rest of your and their life while working and to make it appear as if all those things are done flawlessly, without breaking a sweat. There’s pressure to act a certain way because you’re a mother now. There’s pressure to raise your kids a certain way, especially by people who don’t even have children. There’s pressure to lose all of the baby weight and to lose it all quickly. Regardless, I have to remind myself that I am more than a mom and more than a single black mom. They are parts of me, but not all of me. My life encompasses my daughter’s, but they are still two separate lives. I don’t have to live up to the imaginary standards society places onto motherhood.

The hardest parts about being a mom so far has been the change in sleeping habits, accepting the change in my weight and my body, and the new mom anxiety. The best parts about being a mom are watching her grow before my eyes, experiencing this type of love, and honestly just her entire existence. These three/ four months have been a whirlwind. They’ve also been life changing and worthwhile. I wouldn’t trade it in for anything and it’s exciting to see where life will take us from here.

Categories
life Self Love and Personal Growth

Obligatory End of the Year Post

Time is an illusion, but the start of a new year can be symbolic if you choose to let it be. What better day to draft my last post of the year than on December 21st, the start of the Winter Solstice. This time period can be thought of as the end of a cycle and the beginning of a new one. If you enjoy this sort of symbolism, it is a good time to reflect on the past year and set groundwork for the next one.

Ah, 2020. Where to even begin. It feels like the first year where everyone around the world was simultaneously forced to slow down, look around, and reset. Some countries fought this harder than others. 2020 in the United States was a mess for various reasons including Covid, Trump, and the presidential election. Many admirable people, both in and out of the limelight, that will have a lasting impact, have died. Everyday life for people changed in one way or another. This paradoxical year has both flown by and been the longest year, at least of my life. so far.

In 2020, we started a new decade. I achieved some of the goals, big and small, that I set for myself the previous year. I got promoted at my job. I finished my last college course and received my college diploma. I got pregnant and moved back to my hometown. I am lucky to have turned 23 and still be surviving a pandemic.

Reflecting on the year, a lot happened but it also feels like not much did at all. Some of the lessons from 2020 I have taken away are reminders from 2019. Some have been expanded upon. Here’s a few of them.

Be Thankful

If you don’t already, you should take more time to be thankful for what you have. I said the same thing in 2019. It’s something to be more conscious of. The parts of life that stress us tend to need our attention. Because of this, it is normal and easy to get caught up in the stressors of life. It is important, though, to actively recognize what we have going for us, especially this year, amidst so much tragedy. This does not mean our lives are perfect. This does not mean there are not problems that need fixing or uncontrollable situations that have or will knock us down. This is not promoting toxic positivity. It is just a reminder that chances are you or I have something someone else wishes for. It is a reminder not to take things for granted.

Toxic Positivity is Bad

Pretending like things are okay when they aren’t will leave you worse off than accepting you are upset. It is okay not to be positive all of the time. It is okay to say something is shitty if it is. Life is all about balance. Sometimes we just need to cry it out and dwell in our sadness. Sometimes we need to stew in our anger before we forgive, if we even decide to forgive. We feel what we feel and that’s human. (How we react may not be justifiable though.) Don’t force yourself to put on a show nor let anyone make you feel as though you’re complaining when you’re expressing how you feel.

Two Things Can Coexist

We are so used to viewing things in labels and boxes. Often times, concepts are explained or understood as this or that. An example that I grew up with is the idea that evolution and God are conflicting theories. Now some things innately have a line drawn in the sand. How can you be pro-life but believe in the death penalty? Those two ideas are conflicting since the death penalty takes away life.

However, I would argue that lots of concepts are not so easily conflicting. Covid spreading in the US can be the result of both government incompetence and human selfishness. If you believe in God, God could have been the designer of evolution. You can hate capitalism and still contribute to it. You can agree the political system needs to change and still vote. Etcetera, etcetera. Life is simple and complex, depending on how you look at it. Not everything is simple enough to be knocked into boxes when concepts can be a spectrum and/or situational and/or dependent on your own ethics and values. This is proved by the spectrum of sexuality, the ethics behind the trolley problem, and the age old question “Is it wrong to break into someone’s house for food? What if it’s to feed your starving family?”

Perspective Matters- One Size Does Not Fit All

I like to think there is the absolute truth and then there are the perspectives of the people involved. Sometimes, those perspectives line up with the truth. One person or both people can be completely off. Both can align with the truth to an extent. One (or both if they agree) can be completely right. We have a tendency to twist the words and situations of other people and project our own insecurities, experiences, and assumptions onto them. Sometimes we are right. Sometimes we aren’t. Some of the time, our judgements do not matter.

Since two things can coexist, one size does not fit all. Perspective and intentions matter. “Money does not buy happiness” can mean that money won’t solve all your problems and instantly make you happy. At the same time, having money will mean no more of your concerns will come from a lack of money. Your current problems would be solved and you’d be happy. Your viewpoint and objectivity will determine which way you view the statement.

Say What You Need to Say

I am a big believer that it is important to get what you need to say off your chest. I feel like every year at least one post mentions communication. As I get older, I have come to see the importance of clear communication. I have learned to sit on my feelings and thoughts about a situation and communicate them if they continue to affect me. Whether it is a good or bad thing is subjective, but I always feel better after I say what it is I need to, whether positive or negative, whether it is received and received well or not. Whatever happens after that happens and it is important to be willing to accept and deal with the consequences of your words. If you’re not willing to, you shouldn’t say it.

Speaking up reinforces the idea that your feelings matter. It can clear up any confusion. It shows you parts of who the other party involved is. Just remember, other people’s feelings matter too. If they express discomfort with your words or tone, consider shifting your approach if you want to salvage the relationship.

People Come and Go

I used to be a pact person. I attached myself to people and, in doing so, subconsciously refused to be comfortable with and learn more about myself. In college, I went on a journey of self discovery and slowly grew out of the need to unhealthily attach myself to others. The mindset did have residual affects though.

It seems like a lesson I would’ve learned by now, but not everyone you encounter will or is meant to stay in your life forever. Social media makes it hard to forget that people come and go and that’s natural. Friendships begin, end, or become distant with time. Acquaintances and past coworkers move on with their lives, as do you, when the common denominator changes. In some ways, that is a blessing.

That’s not to say some relationships won’t be long or even lifelong. I’m still friends with people I met eleven years ago, in middle and high school. My dad is still friends with people he met in middle school. My mom still talks with her college friends often. I believe I have met and will continue to meet people for a reason, but not all of them are and will be meant to stay.

Boundaries are Necessary

Establishing healthy boundaries with people is a necessity. Knowing what lines you don’t want crossed and what lines not to cross can prevent a lot of arguments. It helps everyone involved feel comfortable and respected and be on the same page. Learn what your boundaries are. and then stick with them. Some of them form with time. Some are specific to certain people or situations. A boundary could be not lending any more money to a person who keeps asking. It could be not being available all the time. It could be not allowing someone to talk to or treat you a certain way. It could be ignoring work calls when you’re off the clock. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for making those boundaries. Don’t let anyone guilt you into allowing them to cross those boundaries. Don’t let them make you feel bad for enforcing those boundaries.

Anxiety Can Be Manageable

My anxiety became a little more constant at the end of the year with my unexpected pregnancy and all of its symptoms, Covid, the shutdown and decline of the hospitality industry (my major), and the bubble that comes with social distancing. With anxiety it can be second nature to have a spiral of thoughts that lead to a wave of fear and worry. I talked to a mental health coach, courtesy of my job benefits, and learned the root of where my anxiety comes from: the unknown of the future and not being or feeling in control.

She taught me to actively be aware of and change my thoughts when I felt overwhelmed. We discussed ways to cut off the spiraling thoughts and shift directions by literally doing something else instead. She helped me see that, like with concepts, with myself and my life, it doesn’t have to be this or that, all or nothing. You can start working on parts of a goal without finishing the whole thing in one sitting. Having a few setbacks doesn’t mean everything is going to shit. Your projects don’t have to be 100% perfect to be shared, especially on the first go around.

Most importantly, she helped me realize I need to be more aware of and live in the present. Worrying about the future, though seemingly natural to me, does nothing. Doing so is based off of assumptions, not absolute truth or reality. It wastes time and energy and forces you to live through a situation twice if it happens to come to fruition. Accepting and releasing fear, accepting whatever comes, knowing I’m equipped enough to handle it, and believing everything will work out in my favor are all things I’ve been and will continue to work on.

We’re All Different

Not everyone will treat situations the same as you. Not everyone will treat you the way you would treat them. Releasing the expectation that people will handle things the same way you do makes life easier and will help prevent the feeling of betrayal.

Also, the fact that we’re all different plays into the subjectivity of situations. Some people are content to be in the situations they are in. Just because you say you wouldn’t be or want to be in that situation doesn’t mean a) you won’t ever be there and b) that person is unhappy in that situation. We all need to work on not projecting, assuming we’re always right, and being judgey of others.

Final Thoughts

A few more things to leave you with before I end the last post of 2020.

1. Clean up your social media, especially by unfollowing celebrities. It can help your mindset. Also set app limits.

2. Set goals for the new year. It’ll help you get an idea of how you want the year to go.

3. Celebrate your wins. It’s not bragging as long as you watch your tone. You really accomplished that, possibly in a pandemic. It’s worth celebrating.

4. People’s opinions really don’t matter. It can feel like they do but they only hold as much power as you give them. At the end of the day, it’s your life. If you’re cool with it and it’s not offensive or hurting anyone, including yourself, do and say what you want.

5. People can make it seem like you are different than you are to others. This is on a case by case basis and you have to be able to accurately hold yourself accountable to discern appropriately. Still, sometimes people will paint you in a different light than you actually are in. Sometimes, it’s to make themselves feel better about how they acted or treated you. Sometimes, there’s confusion on intentions and wires get crossed. Sometimes, they’re just assholes who want to feel like the victim because they can’t take responsibility for their actions.

6. What you accept is not always what you think you deserve. It can simply be what you want or are willing to handle. It can be a reflection of your subconscious thoughts and fears. After self-reflection, I realized I accepted less than I deserved because it was what I wanted at the time, even though I claimed, to others and myself, to want something more or something different. I knew I deserved and could have better. People would tell me that to reinforce it. But I didn’t actually want better or more. It served its purpose until it didn’t. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, that depends on your perspective. To me, it just is.

7. Allow yourself to be unproductive without feeling guilty. Productivity is a product of capitalism. You don’t always have to be doing something related to work, money, or your goals. Chill out and relax whenever you can and want to.

8. If you have any regrets, let them go and forgive yourself. You wouldn’t be who you are or where you are without all of your experiences. You might say that’s the point of your regret, but regret won’t change anything. Accept what’s happened, show yourself grace, and make movements forward.

A lot can change in a year. A lot has changed for me this year. Securing my college degree was the end of a cycle. Giving birth by the start of the new year will be another one. What are the chances life would align symbolically for me like that?

I recommend you reflect back on the year and take note of how you and your life has changed. I would avoid going into the new year with unrealistic or pessimistic expectations of how it’ll go. Don’t assume it’ll be as taxing as 2020 (don’t speak that into existence), but don’t think everything will return to the way it was (because it won’t). Set your desires for the year, and then just live day by day. You never know what’ll happen.

Categories
Food For Thought life Pregnancy

Let’s Talk About: Pregnancy

Pregnancy is bittersweet. Overall, pregnancy is beautiful. It’s a surreal, life changing experience. Sex can really create a whole ‘nother organism by chance with time. A sperm and an egg really turns into a cluster of cells that becomes a fetus and is born into a baby. Overall, pregnancy is awe-inspiring. Day by day though? Let’s talk about it.

What I have to say about pregnancy is solely based on my experience. Everyone experiences pregnancy differently. Each pregnancy is typically different than another, though there are common symptoms. One person will most likely have a different pregnancy experience with each pregnancy they have. I always say it and I always will say, being pregnant has made me more passionately pro-choice. I say pregnancy is bittersweet because, while I love feeling my baby move and hearing her heartbeat at the doctor’s is relaxing, the entire process is exhausting.

I don’t think pregnancy is talked about enough with transparency, when it comes down to the symptoms, feelings, and overall journey. It is about a whole nine-month process that takes up a person’s life, yet the details of it are barely discussed. Maybe it is because I haven’t seen someone’s journey firsthand. Maybe it is because pregnancy can be a personal thing and not everyone wants to talk about the details. Maybe it is because some people have nothing to say about it and walk through pregnancy like a breeze. Maybe it’s because we’re expected to be grateful to be able to create and carry a baby full term. I want to talk about my pregnancy journey, raw and unfiltered, as a 22/23 year old black woman living in a pandemic. And no, it’s nothing like it’s portrayed on tv.

We can start at the beginning, when I first found out I was pregnant. Looking back, a lot of the signs were there. I just wasn’t looking for them. My breasts weren’t sore but they did look bigger to me, which I didn’t question. My sense of smell was slightly stronger. I had the cravings that I normally wanted during my period. I consistently had a very weird metallic type taste in my mouth that wouldn’t go away, even after brushing my teeth. I thought I had gotten a sinus infection because I was getting headaches, my ears were popping, and my nose was a little stuffy. Because Covid is a thing, I was getting temperature checks pretty much every day before work, and my temperature, which is usually around 94-96 degrees was reaching 98 degrees. I felt gassy regularly. I was told I was glowing. I was unexplainably tired all of the time and felt a tightness in my stomach. I noticed my uterus pouch bulging a little, but didn’t think to question why. All of this happened within the first couple weeks of pregnancy.

Technically, I have a healthy pregnancy. I don’t have preeclampsia or gestational diabetes. My blood pressure is typically at a good rate. I’m not gaining too little weight or too much weight too fast. I have yet to have leg cramps or worry about blood clots. The baby moves and is growing where she is supposed to. In this way, I am lucky and thankful. I do see the doctor every two weeks though and have since I started going, which is more often than most people who are pregnant.

My pregnancy experience encompasses the unique experience that I have an autoimmune disease. The biggest hardship has been the flare-ups from the disease. My version of it is considered moderate to severe and is linked closely with my hormones, which pregnancy has a big effect on. The flare ups have made me relatively immobile and put me in an intense amount of pain or un-comfortability for days at a time. I used to give myself a shot in the thigh every week for it. With pregnancy, I could no longer be on the medication, and I was already behind doses when I found out the exciting news. My doctors gave me at least three different antibiotics to try instead and none of them were as effective as the shot I was taking before. It has taken a while for the most recent prescription to help ease my symptoms. The disease had gotten the worst it had ever been during pregnancy, and now, eight months later at the end of my pregnancy, is the most comfortable I have been in regards to flare ups. I spent a good 75%-80% of my pregnancy in pain or uncomfortable and probably 10% of that crying my eyes out solely because of this wretched disorder that maybe one day I’ll explain. It has gotten easier as the pregnancy went on, and with my third trimester it has whined down, but damn it has been rough.

The nausea is the second hardest part about my pregnancy. Some women are blessed not to experience nausea at all. For some, the nausea goes away by the second or third trimester. Mine has lasted throughout my entire pregnancy and it is accompanied by vomiting. Though my doctor hasn’t explicitly told me I have hyperemesis gravidarum, I think it’s fair to say I have that, which is extreme morning sickness. In the beginning I couldn’t even keep down water. Some days I still can’t. Anything I ate I would throw up; for at least two weeks I barely ate anything at all. The smell of food and coffee at my job made me nauseous. I spent so much time in the bathroom and my disease was increasing in intensity, it was best for me to go on a leave of absence.

Throwing up everyday turned into throwing up a couple times a week. There was maybe a month or two where I was vomit-free and that was because of medication. Now, around 33 weeks the nausea has come back. All the vomiting has led to a little blood in my throw up from time to time. Throughout this pregnancy, I have been on at least three different antacids and if memory serves, two different nausea medications. Pregnancy is the first, and only time, I had to get an IV to resupply the nutrients in my blood. That happened recently in my last trimester and I proceeded to throw up in the hospital as well.

There are also other little symptoms that come with pregnancy that I had no idea about until I experienced it. Heartburn is a big one for me, and is also a source of where my nausea comes from. Back pain is the obvious one most people know of. I get headaches more often. Sometimes, not very often, my nipples have been sore. I see un-concerning floaters in my vision from time to time. I’m out of breath easier and towards the end of my pregnancy can really feel my baby applying pressure, which affects the way I move, sit, lie down, and get up.

My heart rate randomly speeds up and is noticeably faster because a pregnant body is working twice as hard. During pregnancy, your joints loosen and your center of balance is different than before. Your feet and hands can swell, it can be hard to sleep, and towards the end, you really do have to pee all the time, which doesn’t help when it is hard to sleep. There is also this thing called sciatica, which is nerve pain in the hips, that was aroused in me for about a month. The constipation that comes with pregnancy can also be annoying depending on the severity. I have luckily only had one really hard morning. UTIs and other vaginal infections are also easier to catch. I am hot literally all the time, even when it’s freezing outside. I’ve been a different type of tired throughout most of my pregnancy. I’m sure there are other little symptoms that pregnancy brings that I can’t remember or haven’t experienced, at least yet. If you’re reading this and are pregnant, contact your doctor for any symptom concerns. Some are signs of bigger issues, they just haven’t proven to be for me.

Those are all the physical aspects of pregnancy that I can remember I’ve been experiencing. There are also the mental and emotional sides too. Pregnancy brain is really a thing. Sometimes, I just can’t think. The emotional rollercoaster that comes with hormone changes hasn’t been as dramatic for me as people claim it to be. Still, things that wouldn’t normally make me cry have made me cry to the point I question why I’m crying. I get agitated easier. Some days I’m just sad for no real reason.

In the beginning, I struggled with if I even wanted to continue with this unplanned pregnancy for months. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made and it will probably be the most fulfilling. In general, I have anxiety. Being pregnant, especially pregnant in a pandemic, has brought about more anxiety with it. I have worried about all the things that can go wrong during pregnancy and delivery. You honestly never really know what will happen until the baby is born. I have worried about catching Covid, about when it will end, and what it and its effects will morph into when my daughter is older. I worry about the racist, sexist, problematic world I am bringing a child into. I worry about if she is healthy and whether or not I will be okay and survive during childbirth, especially as a black woman. I worry about being neglected by doctors and if there are or will be obvious signs that something is not right that will be missed. I worry about being a statistic and being further stereotyped and about what life will look like when she’s here. I worry about the “dad” popping up in a couple years and having to deal with him. I worry if I can’t feel her move enough or if she is moving too much. I worry that the doctor won’t be able to find her heartbeat. I worry about sudden infant death and the newness of everything that comes with caring for a newborn. And this is all just on the top of my head. Literally anything there is to worry about regarding pregnancy and motherhood, I have worried about it as some point.

Being pregnant during Covid is also a different experience because I am taking Covid seriously. I was immunocompromised before pregnancy; now I’m further immunocompromised. Being on leave of absence, being high risk and acting high risk means I rarely leave the house or see anyone outside of my household and doctors. Few people have really seen my pregnancy bump develop. No one has really felt her move, partly because she tends to stop when anyone tries to feel. Every appointment I have, I have to attend by myself because visitors can’t come in. When I give birth, only one person is allowed in the hospital with me. It is nice to avoid the unsolicited advice and comments from strangers, but pregnancy during Covid is a different experience. I have no base comparison so who knows what else I’m missing out on.

Because of the stage I am in my life and because of Covid, I have chosen to isolate from others. As selfish as it sounds, not reaching out to others often, if at all, has given me space to focus on myself and the start of a new chapter. I haven’t avoided anyone, but I also haven’t engaged much with anyone who didn’t reach out to me first. For me specifically, isolating was a necessary step for growing and educating myself, though it may not be for anyone else, especially since pregnancy is essentially a waiting period. I’ve been waiting what feels like lifetimes for my daughter’s arrival. I’ve been waiting to be able to start working again.

There is also the whole gaining weight to support your baby thing. Pregnancy will be the most I have ever weighed. As someone who has always had her weight commented on, from when I was a fat child to when I was proportioning out to when I was losing weight, there was a time during this pregnancy when it was triggering to have my weight checked often and to explain my eating habits, especially when I was having trouble keeping food down in the first place. For the most part I got used to it, but there are still those days. For example, the IV caused me to gain five pounds in two weeks, and I was petrified up until my ob told me that my weight looked good and that I probably was dehydrated before the IV. Also statistically most people who are pregnant gain more then they’re “supposed” to. I find it a little arbitrary and though it is necessary it is tracked because excessive or too little weight gain can lead to other problems, I do think being super strict about it is a product of society. There is so much going on in your body and mind when your pregnant. Worrying about weight when it isn’t part of a bigger issue will only cause further stress.

Pregnancy in itself can also be a lonely experience, but not because you’re alone. Some know right away what their next step is after a positive pregnancy test is. I didn’t. When you are unsure, it is difficult to talk about making the choice to continue a pregnancy with people who have never been pregnant and struggled with the choice themselves. People understandably project what they would do or their concerns onto you when it is not their life being affected. At first, it was hard and strange to hear “Congratulations,” when the initial excitement that I could actually have kids of my own was taken away from me, when I didn’t feel like I had a choice, when I was being pressured into a decision that didn’t align with what my gut said, when I was unsure about having and coping with an abortion, and when I was overall confused about what I wanted. It can be hard to talk about pregnancy with people who aren’t currently or have never been pregnant because they can’t have a real understanding of it. And honestly, who really wants to hear about the nitty gritty of the experience in a casual conversation? Even with support, and even with someone I am close to being pregnant, there were times when pregnancy was alienating for me.

Being transparent about how pregnancy can be hard and tiring is not something people want or expect to hear. It can sound like a lot of complaining about a beautiful journey that not everyone who wants to gets to experience. People want to talk about food cravings, your growing baby bump, and names for the baby. (I crave a lot of sweets by the way, to the point that they show up in my dreams. I haven’t craved anything I usually don’t like, but sometimes I have craved something, taken a bite, and become disgusted. I also can’t eat some things I like such as spicy food.)

The conversations around pregnancy are usually light and full of excitement. After all, it is an exciting time! All I can think about is seeing my baby and what she’ll look like when she cries and laughs. I just think it’s important to be able to say “pregnancy is beautiful and I am excited for my daughter’s entrance into the world” as well as “fetuses and babies in the womb are basically parasites” without it being controversial, simply because parasite has a negative connotation and because, often times, continuing with a pregnancy is a choice. Also because, by definition, that’s what they are.

Continuing with or ending a pregnancy is a personal choice to be made by the person carrying the baby and should be treated as such by the other party involved, society and law. Even though I didn’t feel comfortable with it this pregnancy, we’re pro-abortion over here, especially because for about nine months, during pregnancy, your body isn’t yours. Your body will neglect you to encourage the growth of the eventual baby. You have to watch what you eat, drink, take vitamins, and ride out all of the symptoms to encourage the healthy development of the fetus . For almost a year. And then after that you are responsible for your baby in every way basically for the rest of your life if you aren’t putting the baby up for adoption and if you’re a considerate parent.

I didn’t research anything about pregnancy until I experienced symptoms and wanted to know if they were normal. There is so much that comes with pregnancy. Pregnancy isn’t all sunshine and rainbows for everyone who experiences it and I don’t think it should be portrayed that way. I decided to share my experience to normalize the hard and irritating parts of it. The truth is, pregnancy, just like life, has it’s good days and bad days. My pregnancy in itself has been good, but the side effects, most noticeably the hormone changes, have triggered other symptoms inside my body that’s not fun to deal with, especially on top of the other common pregnancy symptoms. It would be a lie to say some days haven’t been really hard. I am happy I continued with this pregnancy because after experiencing all of this I don’t know if I want to do it again. It’s made me consider if I really want more children, (which I do but like damn at what cost).

I say pregnancy is worth it, simply because of my mindset behind having children, which is different than the norm, because I’ve always wanted to be a mom and because I made the choice on my own to continue with my pregnancy. I am thankful for this experience. Pregnancy itself has already changed who I am and helped me grow as a person. I will also say I am over it. I have been ready to give birth and hold her in my arms for months. I am ready to eat what I want when I want without worrying about if it’s safe for the baby or throwing up. I am ready to be back on medication I know works. I am ready to stop throwing up and am ready to start becoming nimble and mobile again.

Few tell you the hardships of pregnancy. Maybe they’re focused on the prize at the end of the race. And though the rainbow is beautiful at the end of the storm, it doesn’t change the fact there was a whole storm you managed through to get there. The storm makes me more appreciative. The prize makes it worth it.

Categories
Food For Thought life Self Love and Personal Growth

The Dream I Had

I had a dream a month or so ago that woke me up feeling some type of way I cannot really explain. I wholeheartedly believe dreams that are remembered can tell you a lot. They pull from your subconscious. They can spark your creativity and imagination, remind you of something you have forgotten or have been meaning to do, teach you lessons, and even tell you how you feel. In this dream, there was a bunch of things happening, but the part I am going in to detail about is the part I remember the most that resonates the most with me.

I suppose I was a teacher in the dream. I had a whole group of people with me, all in their twenties-around the same age as me. I don’t know what kind of class it was. It seemed like the mission was to complete an escape room like experiment. A lot of us had finished it on our own already. There was one person who hadn’t experienced the escape room yet.

One of the stages required the participant(s) to knock out this monster guarding the next round. The way to achieve this was to pull the ropes so that the monster would be enticed to go near the dangling slab of concrete attached to the rope, which you’d end up releasing on its head. The person who didn’t complete the escape room beforehand, lets just call her “Student,” performed this step with the help of everyone else. As the teacher I allowed it, though I was getting a little annoyed because she was meant to do it herself.

We moved through that round of the escape room and got to a huge room with two sections. As you walk in you would see a desk with with papers on it, with a drawer and a lock. To the right of that was a huge window that opens out with another desk underneath it. Shelves covered in books, vases, and plants decorated the walls. An archway to the left led to treasure chests with key holes on top of chairs. Bookcases were on the walls behind that.

The group that was there started explaining to Student how to get the keys to open the locked drawers and chests without her exploring the room and finding them for herself. I was getting more and more agitated. At one point I told them all to stop feeding her information. She found a key with their help and searched for which keyhole it opened by herself. She went to the first keyhole she saw and attempted to open it. It needed a code. She couldn’t figure out the code, so the drawer wasn’t opening.

Everyone knew the key wasn’t meant for the desk drawer. The key opened the treasure chest in the archway. A group of people moved there because they were getting restless. It seemed like a lot of time was passing. I was worried that she would assume the key opened a treasure chest in that room simply because everyone gravitated there. Then, someone opened up the treasure chest and pulled out a plant, which was what Student was meant to find. I yelled at that person for sabotaging this whole experiment which was meant for Student to learn. Turns out that person took the plant that was inside to mess with, who I assume, is the other person who facilitated the experiment. Their actions had nothing to do with helping or harming Student although it would affect her.

I went outside to recover the plant that was taken and when I got back inside, Student was crying hysterically. The drawer just wouldn’t open and she was frustrated. Someone else was crying watching her. I approached Student and consoled her, holding the plant behind my back. Someone took it from me as I told her, “Hey, obviously this isn’t working. This key isn’t for that drawer. You know that. Why do you keep trying? Find the right keyhole.”

She ended up going to the room everyone gravitated to. She picked the right treasure chest and opened it. Although the plant she was meant to find wasn’t in there, it would’ve been. One of the members of the group revealed it to her. Student seemed satisfied and asked, “See. Wouldn’t it have been easier to just tell me how to do it?”

“No,” I answered, “Because this was meant to teach you how to think critically and problem solve. I would’ve let you keep going but we’re running out of time. Now it’s time to open the desk drawer.” The code to the drawer was outside, on the ground, which could be discovered by looking out of the window. I was worried she wouldn’t find it.

Then I woke up.

I took away a couple explanations and lessons from this dream. A part of me felt like I was talking to my daughter just because I am pregnant with a girl and mothers tend to teach lessons to their children.

However, I also took away how Student was trying the same thing over and over again. It wasn’t working, she knew it wasn’t working, but she kept trying. And though getting up after you get kicked down is admirable, it is equally as important to recognize when your approach is wrong. Trying the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result, is insanity. It’s important to be flexible and to learn when to keep going, walk away, or approach the situation differently.

I was upset in the dream because I wanted Student to figure out things for herself. When you are always given all the answers, you become dependent on others. It can make it hard to know where to start when you are met with a problem. It can, in some ways, hinder your growth. Problem solving and critical thinking are skills. Skills need to be developed and sharpened. This doesn’t mean not to ask for help or rely on others. It’s just a reminder to trust yourself and your instincts as well.

People providing Student with answers also bothered me because it did not allow her to look for clues. Escape rooms somewhat require you to solve a puzzle by looking at all the details to make sure you don’t miss anything. Student wasn’t turning every stone. She looked at the directions she was pointed to instead of the bigger picture. She also wasn’t looking at the details. You can learn a lot by stepping back to see the whole picture and by zooming in to look closely at the details.

It can be hard or disheartening to watch, but sometimes you have to watch people figure it out on their own. You can give your opinions and advice, but ultimately it is their life. You can tell your kids not to touch the hot stove, but they will not understand how hot it is until they touch it. Similarly, sometimes you have to learn the lessons for yourself. I mean, how many times has someone given you advice that you did not listen to? How many times were those people right? It is different to hear it than experience it.

Lastly, upon editing this post, I was reminded that life happens. People, events, and situations may interfere with your life and unknowingly (or knowingly) affect your life. The person who stole the plant was not thinking about Student when they did so, but the chest was still empty when Student unlocked it. Intentions matter, but they do not always warrant forgiveness.

Maybe I think too much, but those were the lessons I took from that dream I had. It was so random but the fact I remembered meant something to me. It felt like a metaphor when I woke up. I had to share what I learned and was reminded of.

Categories
life

Exciting News Alert

In the midst of a pandemic, I found myself working, sleeping, and social distancing, with the exception of one person I would see outside of my household. I know, shame on me. That’s besides the point. My point is that all the signs were there, but I was not looking for them. I peed on a stick for clarity and peace of mind. I was not even late yet, but something told me to check. My coworker encouraged me to check. You could say it was my location’s bonding activity. After checking, I wouldn’t have to worry about if I was or if I wasn’t. I would instantly know. That was the ideology among us.

I always figured I’d be a single mom because I saw how society was growing up. I noticed how there were many depictions of single moms in the media. I have seen friends or classmates more often closer to their mothers and with less interactions with their fathers. I’ve seen how men treated strangers, and saw them with my friends and I. And because of these initial thoughts and depictions, I was always prepared to go through the process with or without the baby’s “father” by my side. The idea of me having a baby in my mind had always existed, regardless of if I had a husband or boyfriend there by my side. That never mattered for me because I always wanted to be a mother more than a wife. Maybe the baby dolls targeted to girls impacted me too much. I actually had one that would eat gloop and shit it out so you’d have to change its diaper.

With all that being said, fast forwarding, I saw two lines on the stick. It was an earth shattering moment. It is safe to say deep down I knew. As I said, the signs were there. Instead of freaking out while waiting for the results, I was calm. I was trying to convince myself of all the reasons why I couldn’t be pregnant. I believe I reacted this way because deep down I knew. And still I was in shock when I found out. I cried and took some more tests and cried more. I tried not to freak out. I freaked out. And I told the people around me. It was too much to comprehend on my own.

I struggled with a decision for months. It took weeks for me to fully believe I was pregnant. Even though deep down I knew what was right for me, at that point in time I was hesitant. I wondered if I was really ready, wondered if I was doing right by the baby by continuing the pregnancy, wondered if I was doing right by the guy. I thought about what it would mean for my future and what it meant for my present. I thought about where I would live and all of the support graciously thrown my way. I was stressed to tell people and stressed about the thought of having to explain myself.

It’s easy to say how you will react to a situation when you’re not in it. It’s easy to say you want a baby when you see a cute video or when there are babies around you. It’s easy to say you’ll get an abortion if you got pregnant before a certain time in your life. Its easy to say you’d never get an abortion. It’s easy to say you’d keep or wouldn’t keep the baby in an unplanned pregnancy when it is just a thought. The mindset is different for every woman.

Before I found out I was pregnant, I thought I would get an abortion. But when it actually happened, I didn’t jump at either option. For me, it felt like either choice would change my life. It was the first time a test actually said positive. The fact that I always wanted kids and to be a mom followed me. The fact that I never saw myself having kids conventionally stayed with me. The worry of regret haunted me. An abortion didn’t seem like something I could emotionally handle when I’ve always wanted a family of my own. I kept wondering what if I never get pregnant again and what if I never have this amount of support again.

I decided to continue with the pregnancy because of the timing of things. A five year chapter of my life was coming to an end. I was months away from securing a degree. I knew and was reminded of all of the support I had. My parents told me they would help me in every way regardless of the choice that was mine to make. I felt like out of any time to change my life, what better time then when my life was already heading towards change.

I also believe everything happens for a reason, whether philosophical or spiritual or not. And yes, there are reasons as to why I got pregnant. Still getting pregnant isn’t exactly easily. And because I am in a time in my life I feel I can amend to add a baby, it felt like it happened for a reason. I had always felt like I met that guy for a reason. I believe the universe, God, or whatever you want to call it, would not lead me astray. If this pregnancy was meant for me now, I’d continue through okay and deliver a healthy baby. And if it wasn’t meant for me and it just happened, I believed and still believe I’ll miscarry. I have faith in the universe mainly because I couldn’t manage without it. Nothing is random to me.

This pregnancy journey has been a ride, which I’ll explain more in another post. And though I made the choice to continue with this pregnancy, it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have the choice later in my life to end a pregnancy if I see fit. It doesn’t mean women should lose the choice to terminate pregnancy, whether it be their first or second or hundredth. It doesn’t mean anyone should feel bad for having an abortion. Pregnancy is a whole lot and people with uteruses should be able to choose for themselves to keep or end a pregnancy. I decided to continue with this pregnancy and even though I’ll technically be a single mom, I won’t be alone in the slightest.